Two storms will impact the PNW over the weekend. The 1st storm will favor the North Cascades on Fri-Sat with snow totals dropping off further south and east. The 2nd storm will arrive Sat night-Sun and will favor Oregon for the deepest totals. On Mon-Tue, Baker will be right on the southern edge of a storm impacting BC. The next storm for the PNW as a whole is expected Feb 8th-9th.
Short Term Forecast
Snow will finally return to the Northwest with two back-to-back storms over the next three days, resulting in off-and-on snow for most areas throughout the weekend. The first storm will impact the area from Friday through Saturday, while the second storm will impact the area from Saturday night through Sunday. Steering winds aloft will be out of the southwest during both of these events.
Forecast for Western Washington:
Snow will begin on Friday afternoon and will continue through Friday night as the first storm impacts the area. The trajectory of moisture will favor the North Cascades for the heaviest snowfall rates with lighter snowfall rates heading further south. Winds will be strong out of the southwest across the higher terrain throughout Friday.
Snow levels from Friday afternoon through Friday night will range from 2,500-3,000 feet from Baker to Stevens and 3,000-3,500 feet at Snoqualmie, Crystal, and White Pass, meaning the base of Snoqualmie will see a rain/snow mix. Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Range will see snow levels in the 3,500-4,000 foot range.
Snow totals through first thing Saturday morning will range from 6-12 inches at Mt. Baker and 3-6 inches at Stevens, Alpental, Crystal, and White Pass. Mission Ridge will only see a dusting, while Hurricane Ridge should pick up 4-8 inches on the north side of the Olympics.
On Saturday, snow will continue during the morning hours then will become lighter and more intermittent during the afternoon. Winds will also be lighter compared to Friday. Snow showers will then gradually pick up again on Saturday night as the next storm approaches.
On the east side of the Cascades, low to mid-level winds will become southeasterly, which will help Mission Ridge get in on the action.
Warmer air will be arriving on the backside of the first storm with snow levels rising to 3,500-4,500 feet on Saturday afternoon. As a result, rain or a rain/snow mix can be expected for many lower elevation areas while mid to upper slopes should stay all-snow.
On Saturday night, snow levels will fall to 3,000-3,500 feet with most base areas seeing a change-over to back to snow (except for Snoqualmie Pass).
Additional snow totals from Saturday through Saturday night will be on the lighter side, ranging from 1-4 inches across the board.
Snowfall rates will pick up on Sunday morning and into Sunday afternoon as the next storm impacts the area, before tapering off to lighter snow showers on Sunday night.
Snow levels on Sunday will range from 3,000-4,000 feet, so once again, the best conditions can be expected at the mid to upper slopes of ski resorts.
Additional snowfall on Sunday-Sunday night will range from 2-5 inches at most areas, while Mission Ridge will see little to no snow on the east side of the Cascades.
As for skiing conditions, I think Baker will be the deepest all weekend with the best conditions on Saturday morning. For the rest of the Cascades, conditions will improve over the course of the weekend as the new snow adds up, but I would stick to mid to upper slopes where temps will stay below freezing.
Forecast for Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho:
Conditions will stay dry through most of the day on Friday, but winds will become strong out of the southwest across the higher terrain on Friday afternoon. Snow showers will begin by late in the day or early in the evening before picking up during the overnight hours on Friday night.
This storm will be weakening as it moves inland and the moisture trajectory will be taking the richest moisture into Canada, but Schweitzer and areas along the ID/MT border should still pick up some decent snowfall.
I'll go with a snow forecast of 2-4 inches for Schweitzer and Lookout Pass, and a trace to 2 inches for all other areas by first thing Saturday morning.
Snow levels will range from 2,500-3,500 feet around 49 North and Schweitzer overnight and 3,000-4,000 feet for areas further south.
On Saturday, snow showers will continue through much of the day followed by a break in the evening. Winds will also be lighter compared to Friday. Following the evening lull, snow may pick up again by late Saturday night as the next storm approaches.
Additional snow totals from Saturday through Saturday night will range from 1-4 inches across the board. Snow levels will be similar to Friday-Friday night.
Snowfall rates will pick up on Sunday morning and into Sunday afternoon as the next storm impacts the area, before gradually tapering off on Sunday night. This next storm will favor areas along and south of I-90 with lighter amounts across Northeast Washington and the far northern Panhandle.
Snow totals from Sunday morning through Monday morning will range from 3-7 inches at Bluewood, 2-5 inches at Silver and Lookout, and a trace to 3 inches for Mt. Spokane, 49 North, and Schweitzer. Snow levels will range from 3,000-4,000 feet.
As for skiing conditions, I would target Saturday for Schweitzer and 49 North and Sunday for all other areas. Keep in mind that snow quality will be relatively dense with a milder airmass in place.
Forecast for Oregon:
The first storm on Friday will be a quick-hitter with most of the action happening further north in Washington. Snow showers will begin around midday Friday with most of the snow falling during the afternoon hours before tapering off in the evening. Strong southwest winds can also be expected throughout Friday.
Snow levels from Friday afternoon through Friday evening will range from 4,000-4,500 feet around Mt. Hood and Hoodoo, meaning rain will be an issue at Hood Skibowl, while areas further south around Bachelor and Willamette Pass will see snow levels of 4,500-5,000 feet.
Snow totals during Friday's round will generally range from 1-4 inches across the Cascades from Hood to Willamette Pass with little to no snow across the Blue Mountains.
On Saturday, we will see a break in the action for most of the day with lighter winds also expected. However, snow showers will pick back up around Mt. Hood on Saturday afternoon and winds will also increase late in the day.
Snowfall will pick up across all areas on Saturday night as the next storm approaches from the southwest with the heaviest snowfall rates likely just prior to dawn on Sunday. Snow levels will fall to 4,000-4,500 feet across the Cascades overnight and 3,000-4,000 feet across the Blues.
Snow totals from Saturday afternoon through Saturday night will range from 3-7 inches across the Cascades and 1-3 inches across the Blues.
Snow will continue throughout the day on Sunday with lingering snow showers persisting well into Sunday evening. Snow levels will be a little bit lower, ranging from 3,500-4,000 feet across the Cascades.
I'm expecting most areas in the Cascades and Blues to pick up an additional 3-7 inches on Sunday, on top of what fell Saturday night, bringing 2-day totals to 6-14 inches.
Sunday morning will offer the deepest skiing conditions this weekend and could be a fun powder day for many areas. Keep in mind, however, that snow quality will be on the denser side as this will not be a particularly "cold" storm.
Many areas will see a break on Monday (Feb 6) and Tuesday (Feb 7) aside from some lingering light snow showers on Monday morning. The one exception will be Mt. Baker and the North Cascades.
A strong storm will impact BC on Monday and Tuesday and Mt. Baker will be right on the southern fringe. Models are in poor agreement with how far south the moisture plume will extend past the Canadian border. If it extends far enough south, Mt. Baker could potentially see heavy snow, but if it hangs too far north, then Baker would only see light and intermittent snow.
On Tuesday night and Wednesday (Feb 8) and possibly Thursday (Feb 9), a storm is then expected to move across the entire PNW with most areas picking up at least some snow. Moderate to heavy snow is a possibility with this storm as well, but it's not a sure thing yet as models are not in great agreement regarding the storm track.
Snow levels are not expected to change much through Feb 9th compared to the weekend, so snow quality will be on the denser side overall with occasional rain issues for lower elevation base areas in the Cascades.
Looking further out, another storm will approach the West Coast around Feb 10th-11th but it will likely split apart with most of the energy diving into the Southwest U.S. The Inland Northwest will likely see little to no snow in this pattern. Whether or not the Cascades get anything will depend on if the storm split occurs before reaching the Coast or after reaching the Coast.
Looking further out, we may see somewhat of a lull through February 13th-14th, then models are hinting at a more active pattern returning around mid-month.
Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Sunday (Feb 5).